Blood Ion Levels: Cobalt
The two metals that can leach off ASR implants into the bloodstream are cobalt and chromium. Cobalt levels are considered a more accurate measure than chromium so blood cobalt levels are what orthopaedic surgeons are currently measuring in the interest of finding these metal debris injuries.
What should blood cobalt levels be at? At what blood cobalt level are you at risk? Blood cobalt levels by the numbers:
- One (1) parts per billion
- Expected background level for someone with no metal implants.
- Two (2) parts per billion
- Expected blood cobalt level for someone with an optimally performing metal implant
- Five to six (5-6) parts per billion
- At this level, there is cause for concern that problems may develop in the future.
- Seven (7) parts per billion
- This is the threshold at which the blood level is considered a problem and generally indicates your implant is performing poorly.
- 30 parts per billion (approximate)
- It is around 30 parts per billion that doctors are seeing the bone be destroyed.
- 100-150+ parts per billion
- These are some of the astronomically high levels Dr. Antoni Nargol has seen in some of his patients. These patients may not be experiencing any pain, have good Harris Hip Scores, and clean x-rays. Soft tissue and bone damage can be extensive.
The long-term systemic effects of elevated blood cobalt and chromium levels are unknown.